Of all the stars of George Mason’s 2006 run to the Final Four, the team’s point guard almost certainly got the least positive press.
Lamar Butler had the lovable smile and the infectious joy. Folarin Campbell was the Big East recruit and big-time scorer who chose to stay close to home. Jai Lewis was the undersized center who toppled giants. And Will Thomas was the double-double machine, arguably the most reliable Patriot that postseason.
Skinn, on the other hand, was famous for his CAA tournament punch and subsequent suspension, allowing his role as an on-court glue guy who could do a little bit of everything to be overlooked.
Well, Skinn is about to get a lot of exposure, on a stage even bigger than the Final Four. Skinn was a starting guard during Nigeria’s win over the Dominican Republic in FIBA Olympic qualifying on Sunday, allowing D’Tigers to finish third in the tournament and advance to their first-ever Olympics.
Overshadowed by more famous Nigerian teammates like Ike Diogu and Al-Farouq Aminu, and competing against a John Calipari-coached Dominican team, Skinn went for 8 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds and had just 2 turnovers in the third-place game. He also got a bit of revenge on the Dominican Republic’s Al Horford, who had helped Florida end Mason’s miracle run in the 2006 Final Four.
As the George Mason Basketball Blog has reported, Skinn was born in Lagos, which I don’t think I ever realized. Turns out his full name is Tony Oludewa Jeffrey Skinn, which I also never knew. He’s been going by Anthony Oludewa Skinn in the Olympic process.
The GMBB also linked to the below video of Skinn helping down perennial power Lithuania earlier in the tournament with a clutch, late-game three-pointer. He was even wearing a familiar dark green jersey when he hit that shot, finishing with15 points. (The Baltic Giants didn’t need to win, but still.)
Nigeria had been ranked just 21st in world basketball rankings, according to P.M. News Nigeria.
During the qualifying tournament, Skinn played against a couple D.C. products in Greivis Vasquez (Venezuela) and Linas Kleiza (Lithuania).
Skinn and Nigeria will face the U.S., a fellow Group A team, in the preliminary stage of the Olympics. Another star of the 2006 D.C. college basketball season — George Washington’s Pops Mensah-Bonsu — will play for Great Britain in Group B. With Kevin Durant and Kleiza also in London for the games, that’ll be quite a D.C. basketball scene.
(Via George Mason Basketball, obviously.)